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WARNING: This story includes sexually explicit material.

Please note any unfamiliar spellings and phrases may be due to the
fact I am English, not American.

I would like to thank the proof-readers for all their help

Any comments, including constructive criticisms, would be
most appreciated. Please send to

This work is copyrighted by the author. You may download and keep
one copy for your personal use as long as my by-line and e-mail
address and this paragraph remain on the copy. Any posting or
reposting on a website, other than the archive or Dejanews, or
to a newsgroup requires my permission first (but I'll probably say
yes). This story should not, under any circumstances be used to make a
profit by anyone other than the author


Back To Reality (MF, rom)[2/4]
by Vickie Morgan

As the months passed Ellen grew to look forward to Baz's visits. She
worked her way through scores of programmes. There were programs
based on plays, others on classic films such as 'Casablanca' and 'Gone
With the Wind', still others based on novels such as 'Jane Eyre' and
'Moll Flanders'. Some were completely original where she was a
detective with a murder to solve. There were programmes exploring the
natural world, which gave her unique chances to climb a volcano or fly
to the moon. There were programs that let her visit landmarks and
museums in all parts of the world. She soon became proficient at
connecting the machine up and knowing how best to interact with the
programs. As the operations and physiotherapy on her back became more
intense, the VR3000 became a welcome escape. In the programs she
didn't feel the pain and she could move freely. She spent longer and
longer in the virtual world as real life became more painful. Baz
would tell her of the latest advances and recommend the best programs.
So when he arrived one day looking very excited she knew he had
found something very special.

"I shouldn't let you have this but I knew you would love it. This is
a program a friend of mine has been developing. It's only a prototype
and they need someone to test it, so I thought of you. It's had a
load of technical tests run on it but no one's actually played it.
Some of the cosmetic stuff hasn't be added yet but nothing essential
is missing. You're as qualified as anyone to be an expert on the
VP3000 so what do you say?"

"Yeah, I'll give it a whirl. What's so special about it?"

"It taps into your subconscious somehow and changes to suit each
individual user. Instead of characters just performing their roles,
this reads your reactions and adapts providing a realistic interactive
experience. You remember when you were so cross because you couldn't
stop Arthur marrying Guinevere in that Camelot program? Well with this
you could! It's not fully developed so there's only a limited number
of characters and one plot. There's also no background so I spliced
it onto '100 Beautiful Cities of Europe'. If this baby works it
should be awesome."

" '100 Beautiful Cities of Europe', that's the best setting you could
find?" Ellen asked.

"Hey, this is my favourite program. I don't bother with the cities
but you have travel options. You can travel in a coach, a family car,
Toyota Corolla or something like that, or a Porsche Boxster. You can
choose between the direct route between two cities or the scenic
route. I get the Boxster and take the scenic route. Get this!
There's hardly any traffic and when there is there's always plenty of
room to overtake. The weather is always perfect and all journeys take
a day. I went from Vienna to Edinburgh in one day. It was fantastic."

"You're crazy! No one else would go in a VR machine just to drive."

"Yeah well, everyone's fantasies are different. I'm married. It's
the only one I'm allowed." He winked at her.

"I'll tell your wife you said that!" Ellen threatened, laughing at
him. "Have you got it fixed up yet?

"All set and ready to go. You won't mind talking to the designer
afterwards will you? He's a mate of mine and he only let me nick this
on the condition he got feedback."

"As long as I can do it over the phone. You know how I hate meeting
new people. They try so hard not to stare at my scars; it's

"That should be fine. And hey, don't stress about the scars. That
last lot of plastic surgery has done wonders. After the next lot
you'll hardly know they're there."

"I hope you're right."

"I'm always right. You should know that by now. These bags are only
half used. Do you want me to replace them anyway?"

"That's because I've been in the hospital most of last month. I'll
tell you what, why don't you just leave the new bags and I'll replace
them myself when they run out."

"Okay, I'll leave them underneath. There you go, all serviced no
major problems so far. See you next time."

"Take care, Baz. Give my love to the wife and kids."

"I will. Have fun."

Ellen grabbed a quick snack then clambered into the machine. This new
program sounded intriguing and she was eager to find out just how
different it was. There was no voice over or countdown, she was just
presented with a choice of six people to meet for a blind date. She
ignored the three women. She also discarded the good-looking man as
she found handsome men intimidating. She was left with a choice of
two so she went with the fair-haired one. Everything went black, then
abruptly she found herself on a pavement outside a restaurant. It
took her a few moments to orientate herself, then she went inside.
Her 'date' was waiting just inside and introduced himself as David
Thornton. They were shown to their table and a waiter handed them

"So how good is your Italian?" David asked her.

"It's sketchy but I can just about translate a menu and follow opera."

"Well that's got the essentials covered," he smiled. Ellen smiled
back. He seemed pleasant enough and he had a very engaging twinkle in
his eyes when he smiled. "Is this your first visit to Rome?"

"Yes. I've always wanted to tour Italy but this is my first

"It's a shame you joined the tour late. You've missed southern Italy.
You're not going to see much of Rome either."

"Well why don't you describe what I've missed," Ellen suggested.

The meal passed quickly with David describing the highlights of his
trip so far. He gave her vivid descriptions and sprinkled amusing
anecdotes throughout. He didn't do all the talking but included
Ellen, getting her opinion and listening intently to whatever she
said. Ellen found him a perfect dinner companion, considerate of her
choices but decisive with the waiter. She had hardly noticed the
delicious food she had eaten and was momentarily disappointed when he
asked for the bill.

"I was wondering, if you're not too tired, whether you would like to
take a stroll," David asked. "It would only take an hour or so to see
most of ancient Rome and it looks great at night."

"That would be great. Are you sure you wouldn't mind?"

"Of course not. I love this city and it would be a privilege to
introduce you to its beauties. I only wish I could take you to the
Vatican and show you the Sistine Chapel."

"Gives me a good excuse to visit Rome again, though."

"You can always throw a coin in the Trevi fountain to make sure."

"I'll throw two for insurance. Lead on." They went out into the soft
indigo Italian evening. They wandered down narrow ill-lit streets
which opened into squares alive with the susurration of water from
diverse and fantastic fountains. They marvelled at the ancient
majesty of the Colosseum and the meretricious whiteness of the Victor
Emmanuel Monument. They made their way through the sophisticated
commercialism of the Via Corso and got lost in the tangle of side
streets looking for the Trevi Fountain before climbing the Spanish
Steps and entering the gardens of the Villa Borghese.

They stood together in companionable silence as they gazed at Rome
spread out before them. The sweet scented silky breeze brought faint
echoes of the traffic which seemed to emphasise the tranquillity of
their viewpoint. There were quiet murmurs of self-absorbed couples
and rustling leaves all around them which seemed to cocoon them in
their own private world. All evening Ellen had been aware of David's
every move. She could feel his gaze on her as an almost physical
sensation and when he touched her electric tingles raced across her
skin. Conversation with David had been a joy, their minds meeting and
complementing each other.

Now even the silence was relaxed, not the strained awkwardness of
trying to think of what to say but a quiet appreciation of each
other's company and the city's beauty. It seemed natural and
inevitable when his arms slid around her and she raised her lips to
his. He brushed his lips softly against her mouth at first, then more
firmly as she responded. Lips melding, tongues duelling Ellen was
lost in the whirl of sensations as she clung to David. They drew
apart at last, breathless and shaken by the passion thudding through
their bodies. They made their way back to the hotel, oblivious of the
beauty around them. They spoke little but revelled in each intimate
touch and smile. When they reached Ellen's door, she had no clear
recollection of the journey. David unlocked and opened the door for
her, then bent his head and gave her a gentle, soft kiss and turned
away. Startled Ellen caught his arm.

"David, where.. I mean why?..." She stopped and started again. "Don't
you want to come inside?" He cupped her face in his hands and looked
deep into her eyes.

"Of course I want to. You must be aware of that. But what happened
between us tonight was something rare and special and I don't want to
ruin it by rushing into things until we're both sure. After all it
could just be a momentary madness. We've got plenty of time to get to
know each other a bit more and hopefully there will be another night
when you're not jet lagged and it's not so late. I was hoping you
might like to drive with me to Florence tomorrow instead of going on
the bus. We could take the scenic route and you would get to see a
lot more of the Italian countryside instead of just going up the
autostrada. And it would just be the two of us"

"It sounds good to me."

"It's a date then. I'll pick you up at about nine." He gave her a
brief, hard kiss then walked quickly away. Ellen got ready for bed
feeling slightly bemused and somehow a little cheap. She had several
times used the VR3000 for sex, most memorably with a Russian gymnast
from an Olympics program. Each time she had ended the programme
immediately afterwards. Never had she felt such desire for a
character before. In fact she couldn't remember feeling this way
about any of her previous boyfriends in the real world. So if the
program was supposed to be reading her mind and adapting to fit what
she wanted, why was she not in the middle of a passionate sexual
encounter? Frustrated and intrigued, but definitely looking forward
to the morning she fell asleep.

The drive up to Florence was perfect. The Umbrian and Tuscany
countryside were bathed in sunshine, the roads were empty and the
conversation brilliant. David kissed her goodnight outside her door
again and his tender touch still seemed to make her blood turn to
liquid fire. They arranged to explore Florence together the next day
and Ellen fell asleep frustrated but full of pleasurable anticipation.

They spent the morning in the Uffizi, exchanging opinions on the
paintings then had a picnic in the green tranquillity of the Boboli
gardens. They lay on the grass together somnolent in the sun with
their fingers intertwined, enjoying each other's presence. When the
heat of midday had passed, they crossed the Ponte de Vecchio and
explored the Straw Market before climbing to the top of the bell
tower. Heart still pounding from the climb Ellen turned from the
vista of Florence before her and looked into David's deep brown eyes.
For a timeless moment they hesitated. Then their lips met in the
sweetest kiss Ellen had ever received. She clung to him almost
desperately as the passion coursed through her veins leaving her weak
and trembling. His breath was warm against her neck as he whispered
in her ear.

"I want you Ellen. I want you more than I've ever wanted anything in
my life. I want you naked under me. I want to be deep inside you; so
deep I can touch your heart." Ellen did not need words. She kissed
him deep and hard then grabbed his hand and tugged him to the stairs.
They hurried urgently through the streets to the privacy of the hotel
room. Every moment of delay seemed unbearable until finally the door
closed behind them.

Lips merged in an endless kiss as fingers scrabbled to remove
obstructing clothing. They collapsed on the bed, bodies entwined, as
they explored each other's nakedness. His lips burnt a path to her
breasts where they teased and tormented her nipples until she writhed
beneath him. She wrestled him onto his back and enclosed his cock
with eager hands and mouth until he gasped and cried aloud. He rolled
her over and their eyes locked as he thrust deep into her welcoming
warmth. They moved to the ancient rhythm, sweat-slicked bodies
sliding together relentlessly, lust commanding them as they strained
towards fulfilment. Too soon they climaxed, collapsing boneless as
their orgasm stole the strength from their limbs. Sometime later he
turned onto his back and pulled her close under his arm. Ellen fell
asleep with his heartbeat thudding under her jaw.

The next few days passed in a whirl of passion and discovery. Idyllic
drives through the Italian countryside were punctuated with tours of
Pisa, Turin, Milan and Verona. They made love at every opportunity,
rapidly learning how to pleasure each other. They spent endless hours
talking about every imaginable subject until each knew the other
intimately. By the time they reached Verona, Ellen could hardly
conceive of a time that she had not known David. They fitted together
so well, both mentally and physically, as if they were two halves of a
whole. But visiting Juliet's balcony was a harsh reminder that this
was a fantasy not reality. She lay in David's arms that night trying
to block the thought that this was just a VR3000 programme.

"Are you going to tell me what's wrong or should I guess?" David
asked tenderly.

"I'm sorry. I just wish this was all real. I wish you were real."

"What on earth are you talking about?"

"This is just a very clever computer game. I'm laid in a machine in
England with wires and tubes stuck in me while a load of processing
chips, or whatever they're called, create this whole illusion."

"Have you been smoking illegal substances?" David asked lightly. She
sat up and looked into his eyes.

"I'm serious. None of this exists."

"Are you saying I don't exist?"

"That's right."

"So why do I feel as if I do. I remember my childhood and my friends
and my whole life before I met you. I didn't just start my life one
night in Rome fully grown."

"It's a very complicated programme, I don't know how it works. The
programmers might have given you a back-story so that you would behave
more realistically."

"It doesn't make sense. Why would you want to spend ten days hooked
up to some machine? Why aren't you out somewhere living in the real

"Oh, David. The real world isn't that nice for me at the moment."

"Why not? You're intelligent, funny, and very sexy. There's no
reason why you wouldn't have plenty of friends and your pick of men.
And what about your family and your work? How can you just take a
couple of weeks off to play a computer game?"

"There's so much to explain."

"So explain. Because at the moment you haven't said one thing to
convince me this isn't some warped joke. And I have no idea what I
have done to deserve this, nor did I think you were the kind of person
to find such a thing amusing."

"It all started about a year ago. I was in an accident."

"What accident?"

"A kid ran into the road after a ball. A woman driving a car swerved
to avoid him and crashed down a bank into a ditch. The petrol tank
was ruptured and the whole car was obviously going to explode so I
dragged her out of the car and up the bank. Only I wasn't quick
enough. Half the engine landed on my back and some burning fragments
landed on my face and shoulders. I've been in and out of hospitals
having skin grafts and plastic surgery on my face, three vertebrae
fused together, titanium rods inserted to replace smashed bones and
two replacement hips. Even so I have major scars on one side of my
face, my hair is only just beginning to grow back and I can't walk
without a frame or crutches and it hurts all of the time. The woman
who was driving gave me a load of money, which is invested, so I don't
have to worry about finding someone to employ a cripple. The only
family I've got all emigrated to Australia about five years ago. So I
escape from reality in this computer game."

There was a moment's silence as David digested her story. "You're
serious aren't you?"

"Yes," Ellen answered baldly.

"It was a very brave thing to do, dragging that woman from the car."

"No it wasn't. I didn't think about it. If I had, I wouldn't have
gone near it. And if I'm ever in that situation again I know I'll run
in the opposite direction, which probably makes me a coward."
"No, it makes you human."

"You don't know how horrible I am inside. I hate Adrienne... that's
the driver's. I hate that she walked away with hardly any injuries.
I hate that she sends me money and gifts to ease her conscience but
never finds the time to visit me. I hate her because this is all her
fault." To her shame Ellen felt the tears pour down her face as David
cradled her in his arms. When she finally stopped sobbing he fetched
a wet cloth and bathed her face.

"Ellen," he said slowly. "isn't it bad for you to be hooked up to a
computer for so long."

"No there's drips and things…" her voice trailed off as realisation
hit her, "Oh no, I didn't replace the bags."

"What do you mean?"

"The saline and protein bags are connected to a drip and they keep me
alive. Only I forgot to replace them so they only had a fortnight's
supply left, at the very most."

"So what happens when they run out?" For a long moment Ellen looked
at him as thoughts chased through her head. Then she stood up.

"It's nothing serious. They'll just switch over onto the new bags."
She headed towards the bathroom to replace the cloth but David stopped

"Ellen, I know you're lying. I can tell by your voice even if I can't
see your face. What really happens."

"I don't know. I'll probably start to dehydrate or something."

"You're going to have to stop this game and replace them then, aren't

"It's not that simple."

"Why not?"

"Because when I leave, this programme will finish."

"Can't you save it to this point, then come back?"

"Normally I could, but this is a prototype. Watch." Ellen spoke
loudly and clearly. "Save VR3000 'Date' programme." Nothing
happened. "You see, there's no Save function."

"Okay. So stop the programme and start again. It wouldn't be that
unpleasant to meet me in Rome and fall in love all over again would

"That wouldn't happen though. The programme is different every time.
It wouldn't be you. The character might look the same but it wouldn't
be you, the man I love."

"Oh." David sat down heavily on the bed. "This is goodbye then."

"No!" Ellen cried, throwing her arms around him, "I'm not going to
close the program."

"But if you don't, you'll die."

"And if I do, you'll die." They clung desperately to each other,
caught in their dilemma.

David at last spoke. "You have to leave. After all I don't really
exist and you do. And you are a wonderful person. Never forget that.
One day you will meet a real man who will love you just as I do."

"No! You can't make me go. I don't have a life worth living in the
real world. Here I have you and you are real to me. You are
everything I ever wanted in a man. I don't care if I do eventually
die. It would be worth it to spend another week with you."

"What kind of person would I be if I let you do that?" David asked
indignantly. "Close this program now and stop being silly."

"No. It's my decision and you can't change my mind."

"What if I leave. Get in my car and drive away. There will be no
reason for you to stay then."

"I'll wait here hoping you'll change your mind and come back. Or hire
a detective to find you for me." David put his head in his hands and
groaned. "There's nothing you can say. I'm not going to close this
programme and kill you."

"This is madness. Think about it. When you die, I'll die too. If
you close the programme there is a chance we can find a way to be
together but if you stay you will kill me just as surely as if you

Ellen stared at him, trapped by his logic. "You're right. And who
knows, science can do remarkable things now."

"Go. Go now before either of us changes our minds," David commanded.
Their lips met in one last tender kiss, then Ellen stepped away.

"Close VR3000. 'Date' programme." As her surroundings began to fade
out she whispered, "Goodbye love." Then everything went black.
Copyright Vickie Morgan, 1998


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